Can residual waste recovery contribute to a circular economy?

20 July, 20

Earlier this week, cross-party think tank Policy Connect released a hard-hitting research report calling for the UK government to commit to energy from waste (EfW) recovery, as opposed to landfill disposal, for the management of the nation’s residual waste.

No Time to Waste: resources, recovery & the road to net-zero, suggests that adopting the ‘Scandinavian’ approach would unlock billions of pounds of private investment and generate low carbon heat for half a million homes. Backed by 13 politicians, the report calls for the UK to take responsibility for its waste, harnessing it as a strategic resource to power the green recovery.

Commenting on the report, Rick Hindley, executive director at Alupro, said: “Prioritising recycling, reducing waste, improving education and investing in effective collection infrastructure is imperative if we are to meet ambitious 2035 targets and transition towards a resource-efficient circular economy. Recycling must be the first consideration when it comes to waste management and further improving rates must remain the nation’s priority.

“However, it’s important to consider the UK’s non-recyclable residual waste fraction and how best we harness its value. Looking towards energy recovery technologies, rather than landfill, provides the benefit of low-carbon heat generation and thus offsets our reliance on fossil fuels.

“In addition, unlike most packaging materials, the small amount of aluminium that escapes kerbside recycling and enters into the EfW value chain can be recovered with no loss of quality. Melted and re-solidified shapes are recovered through the treatment of Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) and, once separated, graded and cleaned, can be used in a variety of high value applications – such as to form diecasting ingots for the automotive industry.

“It’s essential that kerbside recycling rates continue to increase and that we prioritise the use of aluminium as a sustainable packaging material. As aluminium recovered from IBA contributes to a circular economy, we fully advocate the process and see it as an essential part of our national vision to achieve a 100% aluminium packaging recycling rate.”

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